Doc Maclean tours SA for a second time

Blues master Doc Maclean is back in South Africa for the Cross Bones Blues Tour, his second SA tour. We spoke to Maclean about the tour, his Oppikoppi performance and more.

Image provided.

On 4 October, you launched the Cross Bones Blues Tour at the Canadian High Commission in Pretoria. What are your expectations for this tour?

Blazing a trail of blues across South Africa! Seriously, I love the music scene here, and I would hope this tour will serve to make me part of it on a permanent basis. Also, I expect to collaborate with more South African artists and to facilitate a broader cultural exchange with Canada. Did you know that Mandela was an honorary Canadian citizen?

You’ll be teaming up with South African artists like Albert Frost again for this tour. Are you looking forward to another collaboration with Frost?

It seemed like everybody in Africa was trying to put us together last year- and when we finally did meet it was an unexpected, magic moment for both of us. I haven’t had as much musical buzz since the days when Colin Linden sat next to me. Not only is Albert one of the finest guitarists in the world- not to mention his great vocals and songwriting- but he’s a great human being, and I enjoy his company. As a duo, this is crazy good new delta African music! Albert’s going to join me next year for 60 shows across America.

You were in South Africa last year as well for the Zulu Skies Tour. Do you plan on doing anything differently for the  Cross Bones Tour?

I won’t drink much water this year! Actually, the tour strategy is quite similar- play a whole lotta shows in a whole lotta places. I’m getting in some Township shows as well this time, a little more mentoring of some local artists in terms of how to tour- and of course, guitar clinics.

Later today (6 Oct. from 13:00-14:00) you’ll be performing on the Top Bar stage at Oppikoppi Festival. What can fans expect from your set there?

Well, voodoo stories. Possibly a red headed drummer. Maybe a few other guests on the stage. Maybe we’ll float over the planet… Hey, this is Oppikoppi and all things are possible!

Do you have any personal expectations for the festival or any elements of the festival that you are particularly excited to experience?

For a North American the whole experience is going to be pretty exotic. I mean it’s a massive set in the middle of a high desert. A dust bowl that looks like a Mad Max movie. I’m going to live in a tent hotel and I’m going to play to more people in 60 minutes than I’ve played for in my whole year of hard touring. Just unbelievably cool and strange. I’m going to dive in and hear as many artists as I can, and taste the whole thing.

Do you have any personal favourite songs to play live?

I open almost every show with “Jinx Blues”, a song that Son House taught me. It’s sort of like saying grace before dinner: it reminds me of the gifts that I’ve been entrusted with, the places I want to take myself and my audience to, and the places to which I have been. Blues is an expression of the journey of the soul.